« * * Rob Solomon wants everybody to have health care | Main | * * Bringing passenger rail back to Christiansburg »

* * Deep hate

Rose Mallinger died last week at age 97 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During her working years, she was a secretary in her school’s office. Friends described her as “spry,” “vibrant,” and the “sweetest, lovely lady.” Ordinarily her passing wouldn’t be newsworthy other than to her family and friends. But she was one of the eleven people – the oldest – who were shot to agonizing deaths in their synagogue, the Tree of Life. She lived a rich, full life until a fusillade of bullets, fired from a high-powered weapon, pierced her wrinkled, aged skin and obliterated her organs. How deep must a man’s hate be to murder a 97 year old woman?

Ms. Mallinger and the other slain Jews were not the only victims during a terrible week in America.

A few days before Robert Bowers allegedly murdered these people – we will say “allegedly murdered” because here in America we all have the presumption of innocence until proven guilty – but there is no doubt about his guilt, Cesar Sayoc from Florida mailed at least 12 pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and media personalities who have been critical of Donald Trump. Fortunately nobody was injured. And a few days before that, white supremacist Gregory Bush, after failing to enter a predominantly black church, murdered two people at a store in Kentucky simply because they were black.

These horrific incidents follow the shooting of a Republican congressman at a baseball field and the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that left a counter-protester and three policemen dead and scores injured in 2017. Back in July, Jarrod Ramos murdered five people in a newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland.

Americans are devastated, heartsick, and frustrated with the rancor and violence.

Bowers, Sayoc, Bush and Ramos were all middle-age white men, who reveled in righteous anger and were determined to vent their animosity in heinous, murderous acts. While not all acts of domestic terrorism have been carried out by Trump supporters, these and a disproportional number of others were, and it’s predictable that it will continue, given the President’s use of incendiary language. Public statements like “I’d like to punch him in the face,” “If you do (hurt him) I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry,” and “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I wouldn’t lose any votes,” embolden and legitimize those who are likely to be violent.

Trump has publicly vilified blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, gays, refugees, and many other minorities who have enjoyed otherwise peaceful lives in America. He has repeatedly called the media, “enemies of the people,” and blamed them for inaccurate and fraudulent news, rather than accepting responsibility for his vitriol. If the media are indeed enemies of the people, who would be surprised if those in the media were attacked by defenders of the country? Shouldn’t the words “enemies of the people,” be reserved for those who maim, kill, and terrorize us, rather than those who bring us the news? We can expect more assassination attempts towards prominent media figures to come.

So angry are Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh with Trump’s asperity that they have signed an open letter asking him not to visit their city until he denounces white nationalism and stops targeting minorities for scorn and derision. As I write this, 16,000 people have signed the letter, and more by the minute.

So here we are, living in a nation – tragically unique in the world – where mass murder, often racially motivated, is part of everyday life. A mass shooting is generally described as having four or more individuals being shot or killed in the same time and location, and we’ve had over 300 so far this year. Shootings that only involve two or three victims don’t even make the evening news any more. Most killings involve semi-automatic rifles and pistols. Opinion polls suggest that majorities of American favor stricter restrictions on purchase and ownership, but nothing seems to ever change.

Recent events are particularly hurtful to those of us here in the New River Valley where our image of a benign and peaceful area was shattered in April, 2007, along with the lives of 32 Virginia Tech students and faculty. And to me because of my Jewish heritage.

Trump callously suggested that if the synagogue had an armed guard, “results would have been far better.” Listen, if you have to have armed guards to practice your freedom of religion, then you don’t have freedom of religion.

Fair-minded Americans are fed up. I’m fed up. You’re fed up. The madness needs to stop. Individually and collectively, we need to decide whether a second civil war is the right path for our nation or whether we will respect our common humanity and chose peaceful, harmonious paths to solutions to our vexing problems.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>